While the council planners and their political allies run around in a minor panic trying to square the student accommodation circle, a feat which will almost by definition defeat them, the potential developers of our cultural quarter have retired to completely revise their drawings, because of the sheer weight of what is known as "material planning objections" together with a visceral set of objections from more than 600 ordinary members of the public.

Some of these are highly technical (but airily dismissed) objections by experienced professionals, concerns expressed by the police, archaeologists who object to 64 square meters of possible Roman heritage being destroyed by pile driving, the NHS and others, including, crucially, an unignorable demand by Historic England to reduce the size and height of the building and relocate part of it well away from the Roman wall.

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When you add the real data about occupancy rates, university support (or lack of), student numbers and their low spending power, it was, simply put, unpassable.

When a plan is submitted, a target date to inform the developer of the outcome has to be nominated, which becomes a legal obligation, and one on which the council's crucial performance targets are based.

This date was November 27. True it can be moved by agreement, but this is not what has happened.

After a secret and apparently (despite the council's obligations in its own code of planning practice), unminuted meeting between the council and the developers and the shadowy council-owned Amphora Trading, the target date was simply denied as 'business as usual'.

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There are two options: they can make some minor changes and take it to committee again, or make the major changes required, withdraw the application and make a brand new one.

As this is a council-led development in all but name, and one which has been characterised by some extraordinary decisions, it is important that next time round it creates an aura of co-operation and transparency by keeping us, the stakeholders informed, don't exaggerate the data, keep the required minutes, and generally understand their own rules.

Dorian Kelly
Gladstone Road, Colchester